VGM brings expertise, legitimacy to young market

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Friday, December 14, 2018

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Group has staked a claim in the “rocking” cannabis and hemp markets with its new division botaniCo.

Dawn Prebula, president of the new division, says a recent trade show for the markets drew 27,000 attendees and more than 1,000 exhibitors.

“It was rocking,” she said. “We opened the booth at 10 a.m. and closed it at 6 p.m., and we didn’t stop.”

botaniCo provides its members, which include dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers, extractors, testing labs and distributors, with a number of customizable solutions. They cover: revenue growth, business analytics, government relations and advocacy, education and insurance.

VGM feels it’s well positioned to serve the markets using experience from existing divisions serving the golf course and medical markets. Through its VGM Club division, for example, it already has contracts for supplies like fertilizer and equipment like irrigation systems that companies in the cannabis and hemp markets need.

“We have group purchasing contracts from both the club and medical sides that cross over,” said Clint Geffert, president of VGM & Associates. “It’s still a very young and not very organized market, but it’s growing rapidly. We feel we bring some expertise.”

While bontaniCo is much bigger than CBD products, VGM was also encouraged to launch the division by the growing interest among HME providers in that side of the cannabis and hemp markets.

“There’s definitely a curiosity there, with them asking us, what are your thoughts on getting into this space,” Geffert said. “The patients they’re caring for often have chronic conditions and they’re looking for alternative medicines. These markets represent a growing holistic approach that includes oils, creams, patches.”

Both Prebula and Geffert noted there’s still a stigma around the cannabis and hemp markets, but Prebula was blown away by the “professionalism” at the recent trade show, MJBiz Con, Nov. 14-16 in Las Vegas.

“There were doctors, lawyers, CPAs—a lot of people in suits,” she said.

Having a buying group like botaniCo that’s specifically for the cannabis and hemp markets is another step toward increasing that professionalism.

“We’re part of the effort to legitimize this industry,” Prebula said. “It really shouldn’t be treated the way it’s treated.”